Content Marketing Strategy Definition, Plan and Template

(Reading time: 7 - 14 minutes)
chess strategy
 
Content marketing strategy could be defined as the way through which we manage our content and publishing resources and the sequence of tasks through which we are going to use them to achieve a specific business goal. The content marketing strategy is one of the main ingredients involved in the search enginme marketing part of SEO.
 
A content strategy helps independent contractors and freelancers who think that to leverage free digital benefits will help them become a verifiable source of value, and an authority on the internet.
This guide is the plan for a generic content strategy. It will show the processes involved in the generation of the strategy itself.
 
I’m not going to go into the preliminary work involved like customer and keyword research, the content types you should use, the technicalities specific to the creation of any type of content, or the channels you should use to conduct it.
 

It doesn’t matter if you will create the content on which it is going to be based, or if you will outsource it and others will create it.

Yet, it assumes you will release t some degree of original content on a continuous and steady basis.

Also, in this guide, I will not go into the minutiae of any specific type of content, so this guide can be of help to more people than if I wrote it focused in any specific type of content, like
 
  • Written Content
  • Audio
  • Video
  • Visual
  • Diagrammatic

Purpose and Rationale of a Content Strategy

marketing strategy - autocomplete
To continuously spread content using a content marketing strategy has many benefits. Some of them
 
  • SEO. If your content is valuable, search engines will index your pages.
  • Organic traffic: a byproduct of SEO. Ideally, this traffic is targeted.
  • Social Proof: you make your expertise transparent to others.
  • Website authority: a strategy makes you an authority on your topic.
  • Lead generation: targeted visitors to your website mean conversions.
  • More…
 
When one is just getting started with content marketing, there’s something that is a free advantage that one should not let go to waste.
 
I’m talking about media flooding. You may think of back-links, but back-links aren’t everything. What do I mean by media flooding, then?
 
To create a signal in each of the social networks we chose for our content to be found easily by our desired audience. back-links in articles, social profiles, and similar are basic ways of flood the channels that interest us, but there are also newer and are more sophisticated ways to do it.
 

Preparation of a Content Marketing Strategy

strategy - who how what when where why
Armed with our customer intelligence documents, our keyword lists, and similar essential back-end data of our business we outline the campaign.
 
Traditionally, a publicity campaign should be at least three months and we can pick 120 days (minus days off) as the strategy’s time-frame. Still, don’t forget that the time frame is to choose a short-term goal.
 
The way I do it is deciding how many pieces of valuable content, and how many pieces of short copy (for instance, micro-blog entries) during the months of the campaign I’m going to publish.
 
Once that’s decided, I pick up a narrative structure and try to make those quantities of content pieces fit in the stages and movements of the pattern I picked.
 
Let’s just see how a content marketing campaign would look using the basic narrative structure we’re taught in school. For the sake of brevity, I’m going to only use three main stages and not any of the other movements that storytelling patterns have.
 
Let’s suppose I decided to base the campaign in sixty pieces of valuable, evergreen content spread through a span of three months:
 

Beginning (Month 1)

 
  • 20 pieces of content, for instance about the everyday life of your business, one each business day, or five a week
  • 40 pieces of short copy, ditto sequencing
  • One delivered daily after publishing the long-form content; to promote it
  • One daily engagement with influencers in your industry or niche
  • 10 hours of social monitoring and social listening in the communities that your potential customer frequent to show your desired customer base that you care for them
  • Publishing a lead magnet to grow your list. This is a downloadable piece of content. The only way the visitors to your site can get it is by filling a form. This is list-building, a basic way to generate lists of potential leads
  • Publishing a short-form control advertisement in your site and other venues, for your customers and potential clients to be able to buy what you have to offer or to initiate work projects

Middle (Month 2)

 
  • 20 pieces of content, for instance about the problems your customers face, one each business day, or five a week
  • 40 pieces of short copy
  • One delivered daily after publishing the long-form content; to promote it
  • One daily engagement with an influencer or a competitor in your industry or niche
  • 30 hours of social monitoring and social listening in the communities that your potential customer frequent to show your desired customer base that you care for them
  • Publishing a long-form sales letter on your website, like for instance a circular, with multiple calls to action to buy your products, or hire your services.
  • Publishing a short-form variation advertisement in your site and other venues, for your customers and potential clients to be able to buy what you have to offer or to initiate work projects. Also, for it to compete with your other advertisement, the one you published in month one.
 

End (Month 3)

 
  • 20 pieces of content, for instance about the solutions available to your desired, earned and owned customer bases, one each business day, or five a week
  • 40 pieces of short copy
  • One delivered daily after publishing the long-form content; to promote it
  • One daily engagement with an influencer, competitor, or customer in your industry or niche
  • 10 hours of social monitoring and social listening in the communities that your potential customer frequent to show your desired customer base that you care for them
  • Measuring the performance of both control and variation advertisements, taking special care of not counting the third month of the control’s performance. You do this to analyze just two months of performance of each ad. The one that got the most clicks should become your control now, and you should discard the other.
 

Content Strategy Sequencing

 
Now, we use this document to create all the phases of the strategy, most of which are going to be the publishing of some content.
 
We do this to brainstorm and sequence all the headlines of the long-form content we’re going to create to be featured in the campaign.
 
Like this:
 

Month 1

 
Day 1: “Case Study: Content Marketing on a Shoestring”
 
Day 2: “Podcast: How Many Articles I Wrote Before Going to the Content Market”
 
Day 3: “Video: Using Automation to Agilize a Content Marketing Strategy”
 
Etc…
 

After The Content is Posted 

xposting and spreading the content
Let’s suppose we just posted the long content on our site.
 
Hopefully while sourcing the additional media to enrich our long content, we found pieces that we thought we could use in the delivery phase, and we took care of saving them.
 
The source URLs and names of the author of the free sourced media we collected go in a document. We can call this document “publishing tasks”, “Micro-blogs File” or anything like that. 
 
In that file, we’ll also house and sequence the short copy we’re going to use for the cross-posted media-flooding.
 
Mimicking the structure of the long content strategy, but with an abridged structure for it to be appropriate to small copy.
 
In contrast with the long-form content, in this file, we have the opportunity to create the snippets of content earlier than the slower development going on at the other, the long-form content, calendar.
 
Doing that will assure us we are on the right track about where we want the overall narrative to go; of the point we want to make, or whatever may be the objective of the project.
 

Update Delivery

Cross-posting services that we can use to send out the updates of our content strategy publically are one of the first kinds of tools one should resort to first.
 
Buffer
Social Pilot
Hootsuite
 

Further Propagation

content marketing strategy - social media channels
Once we did the daily sequence don’t think that’s enough, and that one can lay back and enjoy watching how our websites become crowded by users that our content directed to it; as if building an audience was that easy!
 
We mustn’t think that the content marketing task for the particular piece of content ends in its cross-posted delivery. The promotion of the piece just begun.
 

Earning Readers/Visitors

 
Like I showed in the outline, we must try to find opportunities in which we can direct others to our content to solve one of their pains or problems.
 
Focused communities dealing with our niches should be the first stop. We must social-monitor those communities and interject every time we can to help others. Do this constantly, and in a disinterested way.
 
There will be occasions when someone will ask for something that you already have a content asset for, that’s the moment you must take advantage of, and you send them to your site.
 
Since you were helping them from before, without any self-promotion involved, to send them to your site, to some valuable, actionable, evergreen content because they asked for it will be very agreeable to the community.
 

Notifying the Search Engines

 
Even if waiting for the search engines’ spiders to visit our sites and discover the new content can be relied upon, there is a way to get ahead proactively in this regard.
 
We should manually request the search engines to index the new content each time we publish a new article.
 

Ping Google For Each time You Update

 
Not just the G but as many search engines as you can. The most popular that you can find the method on how to ping them are Google, Bing, Yandex, and Baidu. It’s very easy, just adding the URL of your site map to a URL of the search engines.
 
One can do it automatically with a plugin if one uses a CMS. Also, one can use pingomatic and do it manually.
 

Content Aggregators

 
Many content aggregation sites accept link submission. The only thing we have to do is find the sites that deal with the niches of our keywords and submit the links to our content each time we publish.
 

Back-link Generation

 
Organic traffic is easy to generate if you have a long stockpile of content assets spread by as many sites as possible.
 
If you’re starting you can get back-links easily if you have good, original content that you wrote or bought.
 
Here is an outstanding article that explains work-flows that you can do once you have some content assets ready, with all methods that don’t involve creating additional content.
 
Another way, if you can get article silo sites to accept your articles, the sky is the limit as to Back-link generation.
 
Still, there’s a drawback to this. It may happen that you will get organic, but not targeted traffic from those leads.
 
The trade-off is you’re getting back-links and SEO for a negligible cost, at the expense of the traffic potential being not that good.
 

One more caveat. You should check that the site you submit your article is not a site that allows anyone to download your content and use it because that will do you a disservice due to duplicate content.

Measuring your Content Strategy Success

success go get it
After the period we assigned to the strategy campaign we’ll see if we achieved the goal(s) we wanted to achieve. Did we reach the key performance indicators we had set as our goals?
 
These can be something simple, or something more growth-oriented, like facing the hard truth of what the statistics reports tell about our content.
 
We may consider the theme or idea we wanted to convey has run its course for the time being. We can consider the campaign as finished.
 
Hopefully, we are left with 60 long and 120 short pieces of laser-focused, targeted content assets that because we made them as evergreen as we could, we can reuse in the future.
 
On top of it, we now have an advertisement that we can reuse, and test against two improved variations in a future campaign.
 
Still, the work must go on and with the template we created, we should start thinking about the next strategy. We could use the next one to focus on a different keyword of our niche and assign a different goal to it.
 
Since we are methodically approaching this endeavor, let’s not 
forget that the grand strategy should include the specific tactics we are going to use for each process.
 
One thing is to create bare-bones content without anything. A different story is the moment before one publishes it. The content needs to be enriched before publishing it.
 
There’s a long list of resources one can add to a piece of content to enrich it. Since this guide is generic, I’m not going to delve in it, because I don’t know what kind of content you’re going to employ.
 
Goes without saying that the more elements we add to a piece of content after the bare-bones substance is finished, the more chance we have of the people that need the information sharing it with others, and the search engines indexing it.
 
If we did things right, we soon realized that the only way to become efficient when you have to do everything is creating work-flows where we record the sequence we perform each day, like so:
 
Bare-bones content finished > Give the content a pass through corrector > Decide how many elements going to add to it > sourcing media elements > Optimize sourced images/photos > Deploy the content
 
The same goes for the small pieces of written content we’re going to use to promote the long content.
 

Last Considerations

content marketing strategy - b2b diagram
If you read any of the articles I linked on this guide, you’ll notice that this is a gigantic subject and soon it becomes too much to handle.
 
You’ll notice that I included a procedure to create an advertisement but I didn’t touch the subject of the advertising tactics you should use. That is another complex subject and way beyond the scope of this guide.
 
The point of the ads you might create or produce (outsourcing them from someone else) is that without buying advertising services you can circulate your ad through your website, hosting it as one of the site’s pages.
 
The creative momentum you achieve when running a content strategy is the ideal moment to create an advertisement.
 
Advertisements are the most powerful kind of content when it comes to selling because they are the nexus to the most wanted action you want your visitors to perform.

 

Sourced Media Credits

TopRank Marketing
TT Marketing
geralt 1,2
jarmoluk
Jack Moreh

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